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What one equipment change can I make in my home to reduce my water usage most?

What one equipment change can I make in my home to reduce my water usage most? The Editors Santa Fe, New Mexico


For the average American, it's throwing out the sprinkler. There's no doubt a special place in eco-hell for the guy with the greenest lawn in Las Vegas, probably in a spot next to the designer of the Bellagio's Dancing Waters (though I do so love watching those 1,200 fountains ejaculating spray hundreds of feet above that 22-million-gallon, eight-acre man-made lake in the middle of the desert). A study by the AWWA Research Foundation tells us that 58 percent of household water consumption in America goes to irrigating our yards.

If you insist on a green lawn, look into a graywater system, which recycles from sinks, bathtubs, showers, and the washing machine to irrigate the yard and garden. The installation cost usually runs from $1,000 to $5,000, but like so many other environmental measures, it'll eventually pay for itself in savings.

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Inside the home, it's the toilet. About one-quarter of the water we use is flushed down the drain, which amounts to about 18.5 gallons per person a day. A low-flow toilet slashes that number. For those of you who complain that you usually have to flush twice with low-flows—thus negating the water savings—I’ve got two suggestions: 1) eat more fiber, and 2) look at the AWWA survey. It found that homes with low-flow toilets barely flushed more times per day than homes with regular ones, and consumed half as much toilet water.

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